2016 was a rough year for us. We had a lot of financial expenses—new central air conditioning unit, new-to-us car for my husband—but it wasn’t just the financial expenses that made our 2016 difficult.
2016 was also the year that one of our kids got diagnosed with high-functioning autism. Our kids are 6.5, 8 and 12.5, so this was a late diagnosis, and in the beginning, a complete shock to us.
What We Thought of When Thought of Autism
See, my brother had cerebral palsy, and he played on a Challenger Little League team specifically designed for special needs kids. My brother was in a wheelchair, but most of the other kids weren’t. Instead, most of them had Down Syndrome or autism.
I was familiar with autism in that respect. I had seen the kids with autism become agitated and suddenly start striking themselves or verbalizing with random noises of irritation. I had seen them stare off into space without being able to make eye contact. When I thought of autism, that’s what I thought of.
High-Functioning Autism Can Look Different
Our child did not behave that way. Our child is extremely bright and capable academically. Our child can and does make eye contact.
But our child has always had trouble making friends—has in fact had little interest in making friends. Our child has trouble sharing. Our child focuses on one topic of interest with laser point focus and talks about it. . .a lot.
The first time we heard an expert mention to us that it might be autism, we looked to Dr. Google and read the symptoms of Asperger’s (which is no longer called that, instead it is just called high-functioning autism). Our child had many of the symptoms.
There were a few months when we wondered if it was really true. That might have been our denial phase, but the evidence was clear. Finally in December, we got an official diagnosis, which also included a treatment plan.
Our child is now receiving some of the treatment recommended and is benefitting enormously. I’m still wrangling with insurance to try to get some therapies covered. If I can’t get anywhere with insurance, we do have other options such as getting services through the local schools or through the state. We’re not sure which option we’ll pursue.
Right now the therapy we are getting is enough. Our schedule can only handle two or three appointments/therapy sessions a week, so that’s what we’re doing.
We paid a lot out of pocket for treatment in 2016, so we’re trying to slow that down in 2017.
How This Changes My Blog Content a Bit
You may notice a slight shift in my blog content thanks to this diagnosis. I’m reading many books on high-functioning autism that will show up in my book reviews. I’ll likely share (later) our process of finding treatment and getting it paid for. We’ve changed our curriculum for all of the kids this January, and I’ll likely write a few posts about that.
Even though this diagnosis came as a shock, it also helps explains some of the behaviors and quirks this child has exhibited for quite a while. We’re encouraged that therapy is already helping, and we look forward to raising this child to be a successful, happy, productive adult who just has a little bit different spin on the world than others.